After-Dinner Declarations by Nicanor Parra
Latin American Studies.
Translated from the Spanish by Dave Oliphant. Winner of the 2011 Texas Institute of Letters Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translation of a Book. In the 235 poems that make up these collected declarations, renowned Chilean "antipoet" Nicanor Parra provides an entertaining and enlightening perspective on the modern world. Delivered as a series of five "verse speeches" during the 1990s, the poems in AFTER-DINNER DECLARATIONS eschew literary ostentation in favor of playful, conversational musings. In a language steeped in colloquialisms, Parra's declarations employ a diverse range of discourses—from puns and allusions to diatribes and eulogies—in order to expose the hypocrisy of human institutions and offer a quipping challenge to those who remain satisfied with the status quo. Parra uses his linguistic brilliance and logical ingenuity to confront some of the most serious problems of our day, addressing perennial motifs such as ecology, human rights and responsibilities, and the limits of scientific knowledge. As the antipoet moves deftly from one topic to another with unbounded inventiveness, he discovers for us a wealth of political, philosophical, and literary insights, as well as unexpected connections between ideas that shape our lives.